Location: Bellevue Hyatt
Mood: Déjà vu all over again.
Drink of Choice: Tap water. At home. No one really bothered to stick around long enough to drop significant coinage at the bar.
It was all a matter of putting the best spin on bad news. For former KIRO news anchor Susan Hutchison, the skills she honed on television no doubt came in handy as she had to recount the news of her likely electoral defeat to supporters gathered last evening.With some 244,000 votes counted, her opponent King County Councilmember Dow Constantine is ahead 57 percent to 43 percent.
Hutchison did not concede defeat and is counting on late ballots breaking her direction. She placed hope on the news of Boeing moving its 787 production facility to South Carolina swaying last minute voters.
As usual airy generalities dominated the evening.
"I want to remind you that this is a democracy and in democracies we have opponents. And we have strong opponents," Hutchison told her supporters, bucking up their spirits. "All around the world we see campaigns and elections where there is really no opponent. Or the opponent is a fake. So we can be proud that in our country, when people run for office they have real opponents and voters get to make the choice."
Contrary to typical politician behavior, Hutchison (wearing a stylish white number and carrying a dozen peach roses given by an admirer) mingled with the crowd and spoke to reporters well before the results were announced. Most of the times candidates will remain sequestered in a private room with family, friends and advisors, anxiously watching for results and preparing their acceptance or concession speech.
Speaking to this reporter earlier in the evening, Hutchison said that she felt she had run the best race possible and had no regrets. Rather than a general election, the race was more of a referendum on the former news anchor herself. Susan Hutchison: Yes or No? It really didn't matter who her opponent was. Enemies charged her as a "stealth Republican", a religious extremist who opposed abortion.
"We have been spot on with our message about a need for a new direction in King County," Hutchison said. "While my opponent's message has been only about me."
About two hundred supporters came out to cheer their candidate on. Fresh faces were few and the same old crowd who has been attending every GOP defeat party in Bellevue for the past half decade were there again to witness another familiar scene. Not long, after the bad news broke, the gala ballroom was only home to campaign staffers and Republican Party officials.